SIX years of painstaking voluntary work, recording the fabric and contents of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Masham, has culminated in the presentation of a fascinating report to the churchwardens.

Overall, 13 volunteers took part in the project, mainly from The Arts Society Wensleydale (TASW), with help from members of groups in North Yorkshire and South Durham.

Church recording involves compiling a comprehensive picture of the full range of ecclesiastical features: memorials, metalwork, stonework and woodwork, textiles, painting and windows. An annotation of the contents of the library completes the systematic and consistent recording of each church. The final report on Saint Mary’s is in two volumes with 323 pages overall.

TASW members have already completed surveys of the magnificent churches at Wensley (in 2005), Bedale (2008) and Hornby (2012). Brian Kealy, who led the Saint Mary’s project said: “Records of hundreds of our wonderful church buildings have been made by members of local Arts Societies across the country. Together with Conservation it represents one of our most important inputs into the wider community.”

Brian emphasised that it was a learning experience for all involved, some of whom had little experience in this field when the project began. Membership of the group fluctuated over the years, with momentum being restored by collaboration with members of the other Arts Societies.

The volunteers are justifiably proud of their achievement. Their record becomes an important additional artefact in the long history of this beautiful building.

In addition to opportunities for voluntary work, membership of The Arts Society gives access to a wide range of lectures from internationally acclaimed experts and the chance to meet others with a shared interest in the Arts. Lecture tickets are £10 (refunded if you join TASW). Members of other Art Societies, with ID, pay £5. Contact 01845 567489 or for tickets, which are also available immediately prior to the lecture. Full details of the 2019-20 programme are at